Developing an individualized education program (IEP) for your child can be a challenging and time-consuming task. If you have to move, it would certainly be a lot easier if you could just take your child’s existing IEP with you – especially if the program is benefiting your child. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. While all IEPs must meet the requirements in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), different states and even school districts within the same state may have different methods of meeting those requirements.
Method 1 of 3: Switching Schools within the Same District
Request a transfer of your child’s school records. Transferring your child’s school records to their new school should be relatively easy if you are moving within the same district. The two schools likely have similar records systems and management.
- You still need to request the transfer as early as possible, to make sure the records are there before the child’s first day. Provide both schools with the date your child will start at the new school.
- If at all possible, transfer between terms so your child has time to acclimate and perhaps tour the new school before starting.
- For normal changes within the same school system, such as if your child is graduating from middle school to high school, records will be automatically sent up to the next school. You shouldn’t have to do anything.
Attend an IEP meeting at your child’s new school. Even within the same district, your child’s new school will hold an IEP meeting to go over the child’s IEP. This will also be an opportunity for you to meet your child’s new teachers, as well as specialists who work at the new school.
- If possible, have your child’s teachers or specialists from the old school come to the IEP meeting and talk to the new teachers and specialists. They can offer insight into how to work best with your child.
Make any necessary adjustments. Your IEP is created at the district level. Therefore, if your child transfers to a different school in the same district, your child’s IEP won’t change. However, adjustments may still be necessary depending on the resources available at the school.
- Many specialists work district-wide, so your child may be working with some of the same people. However, their schedule may be different since they are at a different school.
- While the IEP itself won’t change, some of the details may have to be altered to fit the new school. For example, they may have special classes on a different day than they did before. Talk to your child about these changes and make sure they understand. It may take your child some time to adjust, particularly if they are attached to their routine.
Method 2 of 3: Transferring to a Different Public District in the Same State
Have your child’s current school transfer records to the new school. Let your child’s current school know your child’s first day at their new school, and make sure their records will be there before that date. Try to start this process at least 2 to 3 weeks before you move.
- Allow at least a week for the transfer, then call your child’s new school and find out if the records are there. If not, call the child’s current school and find out if they’ve been sent.
- When the records are sent, write down the date they were sent for your records. You also want to get a full copy of your child’s records for yourself.
Ask your child’s current doctor for referrals. If you’re moving far enough away that your child will no longer be able to see the same doctors and therapists, you’ll have to find new ones locally. Your child’s current doctor may know comparable professionals they can recommend.
- A full written referral will provide new doctors or therapists with information about your child and how best to work with them.
- Get a full copy of your child’s medical records before you leave so you have them if necessary.
Discuss your child’s IEP with staff at the new school. If your child moves to a school in the same state, but in a different school district, the school can choose whether to keep your child’s existing IEP or create a new one.
- Until the school makes this decision, they have to provide your child with services that are similar to those provided by your child’s existing IEP. For example, suppose your child received occupational therapy to improve their handwriting under their existing IEP. If the new school doesn’t have a qualified occupational therapist available, staff would consult with you to determine another type of therapy that could achieve similar results.
- A new IEP may be necessary if a particular program that was available in your child’s previous district is not available at the new one. For example, your child may have had music therapy that the new district doesn’t offer. A different program would be found that addresses the same needs as music therapy.
Update your child’s IEP binder. Once everything is settled at your child’s new school, add pages to your child’s IEP binder with contact information for special education staff and administrators at your child’s new school, as well as any new doctors or therapists.
- Make note of any changes that were made to your child’s original IEP. These are areas you’ll want to observe more closely and follow up on to make sure those new programs or strategies are working out for your child.
- If you find that your child isn’t benefiting from changes made, contact special education staff at the child’s new school and arrange a meeting to discuss the situation.
Method 3 of 3: Moving to a Public School in Another State
Get complete copies of your child’s school records. While your child’s current school will likely transfer records to their new school, you also need a copy for your own records. Make a copy so you have extras to give to the new school.
- Schools typically want original records. Make arrangements with your child’s current school to forward the records to the new school. If possible, start the process with your child’s current school at least 2 or 3 months before you move.
- If the record transfer isn’t complete by the time you move, you can provide a copy for new school staff to work with until the originals arrive.
Contact the special education department in your new state. Ask for a copy of the state’s eligibility guidelines so you can make sure you have all the paperwork you’ll need when you arrive at your new home.
- You can get contact information from the directory on the website for the National Association of State Directors of Special Education.
Find the nearest Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) in your new state. Each state must have at least one PTI, which provides free resources for parents of disabled children. The PTI in your new state will be able to help you ensure your child is getting similar services in their new school as they were under their old IEP.
- A list of all the PTIs in nationwide is available at http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/.
- PTI centers typically have lists of tutors, specialists, and programs available in the state, so you can search for resources similar to those your child had access to at their old school.
- If the center is too far away for you to visit in person, you can work with them and get assistance over the phone or through email.
Get referrals from your child’s doctors. Let your child’s doctors or therapists know you are moving, and find out if they know any comparable professionals in your new state that they can recommend. Written referrals provide information to your child’s new doctors or therapists about your child.
- If you have the opportunity, visit potential new doctors or therapists before the move, so they can meet your child and your child can get acquainted with them.
Get copies of your child’s medical reports and records. Reports and records from your child’s doctors and therapists will be helpful for your child’s new IEP team. You also need full copies of your child’s records yourself.
- If your child is taking any prescription medications, make sure you have at least a month’s supply when you leave in case it takes time to find a new doctor. Moving is a hectic time, and it may be a few weeks before you have the opportunity to find someone.
Set up any necessary evaluations or testing. Different states have different ways to determine IEP eligibility. Even though eligibility is based on the criteria in federal law, your child may have to complete the new state’s particular evaluations or testing.
- Your child’s new school will let you know what evaluations or testing are required. You may also be able to find this out in advance from the state director’s website, or by talking with staff at the PTI Center.
- While your child is undergoing any evaluations or testing, the new school must provide services comparable to those in your child’s old IEP. The law allows no delay in providing your child with free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Attend the IEP meeting at the new school. After any necessary evaluations or testing are complete, staff at your child’s new school will schedule a meeting to create a new IEP for your child. Bring your copy of your child’s records and your child’s IEP with you to the meeting.
- The school may have already created a draft IEP based on your child’s records and the results of their testing and evaluations.
- Ask for description and clarification of any programs that are new to you, or that your child doesn’t have any prior experience with.
Organize a new IEP binder for your child. Once you and the IEP team at your child’s new school have created a new IEP for your child, get a new binder to organize the information. Create tabs for communication, evaluation, the IEP, progress notes and reports, sample work, and behavior.
- Only include work and information in the new binder that relates to your child’s new school and their new IEP.
- File work samples and reports as you get them, or at least once a month. Keep your documents chronological behind each tab so you have a picture of your child’s progress and development.
- If you have concerns about your child’s response to their new IEP, contact the case manager on your contact list. You can also raise concerns with any of your child’s teachers.
- If you transfer your child to a private school, they won’t have an IEP. Private schools may offer an Individual Services Plan (ISP) that provides “equitable services.” These services are paid for by the local school district, but funds are limited. If you move your child to a private school, they may not get all of the services they were entitled to receive in public school. Thanks! Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0